Azerbaijani WiMAX operator AzQtel, which offers services under the SAZZ brand, has tested time division LTE-Advanced (TD-LTE-A) technology over the 3.5GHz frequency band at the international telecommunications and IT exhibition Bakutel 2015, demonstrating data transfer rates of up to 900Mbps. According to Trend news agency, the company expects to provide speeds of up to 1Gbps via its ‘pre-5G’ network by 2017. AzQtel CEO Jeyhun Mollazade was cited as saying: ’Currently, there are more advanced technologies [than WiMAX] such as frequency division duplex (FDD) LTE and TD-LTE on the market. The flexibility of the latter allows optimising and efficiently distributing the traffic during the peak hours … If there is a desire to transfer, it is better to transfer to the most advanced technology … The frequency range of 3.5GHz is positioned not only for TD-LTE, but also for the development of 5G future standard, which is expected after 2020.’
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the company plans to initially overlay its WiMAX network in Baku with LTE technology and then move WiMAX equipment to rural areas, before rolling out TD-LTE nationwide. By January 2014 AzQtel had completed discussions with several equipment vendors with the aim of selecting a supplier for the national rollout.